A visual thinker, Carolyn Meltzer was drawn to medical imaging sciences because she appreciated using pictures to solve a complex problem—to her, it felt like putting a puzzle together. But at this stage in her career, the 59-year-old neuroradiologist is embracing a different kind of challenge. “I’ve accomplished a lot of what I wanted to accomplish in my research,” says Meltzer, who chairs Emory’s radiology department. “For me, the most gratifying thing at this stage in my career is the development of the next generation of leaders in the field.”
Meltzer has long been a champion of breaking up the hierarchies in her historically male-dominated field. She looks back on leadership positions she’s held in which she was the first woman to do so. “While it’s great to break glass ceilings, they should all have been broken a long time ago,” she says. A decade ago, she and her colleagues launched the Emory Radiology Leadership Academy, a rigorous, nine-month program designed to propel mid-career faculty and staff into the next phase of their careers. “This leadership academy was put in place with the very intentional understanding that every class would be more diverse,” she explains.
Last year, Meltzer was tapped by Emory School of Medicine to assemble an office overseeing the entire faculty experience, with the goal of bringing diversity, equity, and inclusion to the forefront. “We don’t think of social justice and equity issues as being separate from everything else we do, but part of how we do our work and the patients we serve,” Meltzer says.
Though she isn’t conducting neuroimaging procedures as frequently these days, she enjoys spending time on images of a different kind. Meltzer’s fine arts photography has been shown in more than 40 galleries around the world, and she serves on the board of Women In Focus, an organization that promotes and supports women fine art photographers. She sees that work as a parallel to her work in imaging. With imaging, she says, you must work within strict technical parameters with no creative input, but with photography, “I get to create the pictures.”